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Beware 'new Canada'.

Canada, wrote the much-respected 20th century journalist and commentator Bruce Hutchison, represents the affirmation of "order." The United States represents the affirmation of "dissent." He saw this as something in Canada's favour, though it in fact means that Canadians tend to do as we are told. Whether that is commendable, of course, depends on what we are being told to do, and who is telling us to do it.

Whatever its merits or deficiencies, this habit of acquiescence to perceived authority has characterized us since the days when we were a British colony and the authority we looked to lay in London. But the rapid decline of British influence after the Second World War left us in a state of bewilderment. To what authority would we now adhere?

The answer seemed to be the Americans. As we parted from the British orbit we steadily entered the American one. But we had been trained from colonial days onward never to quite trust the Americans. We loved them; we increasingly depended on them, and nearly all of us had at least one close American kinsman. Even so, the Americans could never play the role that Britain once played. So who could?

Only in Ontario have we come up with an answer to that question. Ottawa, particularly in the Trudeau era, strove to create a home-grown mythology to replace the old British one. This "New Canada" failed to commend itself to Quebec, met with ambivalence at best in the Atlantic region, and an increasing hostility in the West. But in Ontario the New Canada has been embraced with fervid enthusiasm.


This was understandable. The English version of the New Canada was largely a Toronto affair. Its intellectual component centred on York University and the University of Toronto, and intellectual credibility diminished as one traveled outward towards the boondocks. Its media voices were those of the Toronto Star, the Globe and Mail, and the CBC. Almost all its celebrated authors worked through Toronto publishing houses. Its cultural and art institutions were almost wholly Toronto-based, and Toronto had nearly all the money.

So there rapidly developed a Toronto-centred "national" identity. It covered just about everything. There was a Canadian political consensus (mildly left), a Canadian national symbol for good (medicare), a Canadian sexual morality (inclusiveness, of an ever widening spectrum of conduct previously regarded as perverted), a rooted confidence in the boundless capability of government, and an ever deepening dependence upon, and consequent jealousy of, the United States. The New Canada cherished other fundamentals. It firmly subscribed, for instance, to what it calls "choice," in particular the right of the mother to destroy her unborn child,

which is to say the inherent right of the empowered to destroy the unempowered.

Most importantly, it developed a Canadian "state religion." Essentially it is agnosticism. It assumes that no ultimate truths can be known, and from that it concludes that all religions must be founded upon a fallacy. Hence all but the official state religion must be regarded as purely subjective, the mere exercise of personal opinion or taste. All must be denied access to public debate or to any role in the formation of public policy, and every effort must be made to remove parental authority over education, so that parents can be prevented from communicating their personal beliefs to their children and thereby interfering with the indoctrination of their children in the official ideology.

The New Canada calls this cult of the state "pluralism," a misnomer since it aims, not at a plurality of faiths, but at the eradication of all but the state one. Its creed is set forth in an instrument called the Charter of Rights and Freedom. The Charter is interpreted for the masses by a college of cardinals known as the Supreme Court of Canada.

All this is advanced as "The Canadian Way" (meaning, whatever accords with the current intellectual fashion in Toronto). There are frequent references to "Canada As We Know It" (meaning, to a Canada most of us find increasingly unrecognizable), and to "Our Historic Role" (meaning, whatever we have been doing for the last 25 years). Even so, the purveyors of the New Canada demand and get--from Ontario, anyway--the same awe and reverence once conferred on "the Mother Country." In short, Ontarians still fulfill the Hutchison vision. They "affirm order," and the order they affirm means anything these self-appointed nation-builders declare it to be.

Meanwhile Quebec plays its own game, and with the rise of the Reform Party in the 'nineties, the West began to do the same. But the divide with Quebec is largely a dispute over language. The divide with the West is far more serious. It is essentially over religion. The West remains stubbornly Christian. That is why in the last four general elections it has voted one way, while Ontario voted the other, Ontario consistently favouring the New Canada, and the West opposing it, with the principal points at issue rooted in religion.

The Toronto media strive diligently to evade this reality. Some explain this East-West schism as an urban-versus-rural phenomenon, a thesis that requires its adherents to regard Calgary and Edmonton, both of which are pushing towards populations of one million, and teeming Vancouver suburbs like Richmond and Surrey, as "rural." Others describe the gulf as one of old-versus-young, requiring one to overlook the fact that the youth of Canada are pouring into these western cities. They are young cities, not old. What the Toronto media cannot recognize, or will not, is that the West has ceased to be Canadian by Hutchison's definition. We do not affirm order; we are affirming dissent.

For one altogether understandable reason are the protagonists of the New Canada reluctant to portray this East-West split as a religious conflict. There are Christians in Ontario too, lots of them, far more in total than reside in the West. To arouse them to the real nature of the conflict could be disastrous. They have not yet awakened to a single and very unpleasant fact, namely that this New Canada is, in every possible way, an enemy of their faith. If it wins, then Christianity loses.

Current record

If you doubt this, just look at the current record: the New Canada is passing laws that could make it a "hate crime" to read parts of the Bible in a church. The New Canada persistently seeks to forbid a parent from physically disciplining a child. The New Canada is about to pass a law that will remove all legal support for traditional Christian marriage. The New Canada discourages and sometimes prohibits the public singing of carols at Christmas. The New Canada is the only country in the world in which it is legal to put to death a baby any time up to the moment of birth. The New Canada refuses to submit controversial issues to general referendums because it fears the public will vote against the changes it intends to make. More and more vital issues in the New Canada are being decided by unelected judges rather than by elected legislators. The list grows longer every month.

These are the chief reasons the West rejects the New Canada, and last month it began to appear that this rejection may be spreading. The premier of Newfoundland directed that the flag of the New Canada be taken down from all provincial public buildings because the Ottawa government had reneged on an election promise. There was surprisingly little objection to this defiant act from the people of Newfoundland, apart from letters to the newspapers orchestrated by Ottawa bureaucrats and formal protests launched by Ottawa-appointed judges. This "affirmation of dissent," in other words, may soon find a much wider constituency.

Obviously, if the Ontario media were to describe the election result as a conflict between Christianity and what amounts to a new religion, then the media would be waking the Ontario voter to an alarming reality. Better to leave him asleep. After all, Hutchison was right. The inclination to "affirm order" runs very deep in the Ontario psyche, and it is similarly a quality immigrant Canadians easily acquire. The government they understandably favour is the one that let him into the country. "My father knew only two sentences in English when he arrived in Canada," said Saskatchewan's ex-premier Roy Romanow. "They were, 'Me Canadian,' and 'Me Liberal.'" It took the Tories more than 50 years to break that Liberal hold on the West.

It will not take 50 years, but it will require a major effort to arrest and begin de-constructing this New Canada, its creators naturally work hard to portray their success as inevitable, final and irreversible. It is none of these things, however, and its deep flaws are already becoming apparent in the social disintegration we see around us. The first step is for Christians to recognize that it is the plain intent of the New Canada to destroy all manifestations of anything resembling a Christian society, and that it is a Christian duty to oppose this destruction. How we can go about this will be the subject of the next column.

Ted Byfield, one of Canada's best known journalists, contributes columns to the Calgary Sun and Western Standard. He is the publisher and editor of the many volumed Christian History series. He writes from Edmonton, Alberta.
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Author:Byfield, Ted
Publication:Catholic Insight
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Feb 1, 2005
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